Novak Djokovic has made feelings on Ben Shelton clear ahead of US Open clash

Novak Djokovic on course for 24th grand slam

Novak Djokovic will face a new challenge in the US Open semi-finals in the form of Ben Shelton. The 20-year-old Florida sensation brushed aside Frances Tiafoe in their all-American quarter-final at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday night. 

Big-serving Shelton hit the headlines when he hit two 149mph serves in his win over Tommy Paul on Sunday in the fourth round. He was the underdog against No.10 seed Tiafoe but emerged with an impressive win in a hard-fought four-set battle.

It will now see Shelton take on tournament favorite and all-time great Djokovic in the semifinal on Friday. It will be the first time the two players have faced one another, but Djokovic is no stranger to up-and-coming talents vying to beat him in major tournaments.

The Serbian beat Taylor Fritz in straight sets earlier in the day to secure his spot in the last four. Ahead of that game, he already knew another American would await him if he was victorious in the form of Tiafoe or Shelton.

And before knowing the outcome, Djokovic made his feelings clear on Shelton, hailing his route from playing collegeiate tennis for the Florida Gators to making a name for himself at Flushing Meadows as a big moment for the sport.

“It’s great that Ben Shelton, for example, a player that came from college tennis, is playing on the highest level, producing some amazing tennis,” Djokovic said. 

“I think it’s a great message for all the players who want to go to college but then still keep on playing professionally. It proves that it is possible, which maybe up to 15, 20 years ago, it was completely different.”

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Speaking after beating Fritz, Djokovic indicated he was looking forward to watching Shelton vs Tiafoe when he returned to his tournament base. He also declared he is happy to keep taking on home favourites knowing the crowd might necessarily be on his side. 

“It’s expected that people are backing the home player,” Djokovic said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. I actually like the energy.. I’m fine with that. 

“I actually thrive on that energy. Whatever the energy is, I use it as fuel.”

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